I love this time of year, the end of summer. The oppressive heat starts backing off. We have a chance at an occasional thunder-and-lightning storm that brings us free water. The yard-work requirements start easing off. It's still warm at night but cool enough to want a light blanket on the bed -- and soon the insects will be drifting away until the spring.
As great as these things are, they all pale in comparison to the real reason this time of year is so exciting, it's football season! High school games will light up the sky on Friday nights; college football games will fill the airwaves on Saturdays; and Thursdays (with a Wednesday season opener this year), Sundays and Mondays will be celebrated with pro games.
All of the bone-jarring, pad-crushing, brutality of the sport will be shown in HD, 3D and live. And I love every bit of it.
I don't know what it is about the sport that I like so much, or what part of it I like the most. I appreciate the skill it takes, I admire the athleticism, I love the gladiator-style combat that takes place on the field. I enjoy watching the opposing coaches try to anticipate each others' moves and come up with an unexpected surprise now and then to keep the other side off-balance.
I enjoy the sounds of the game: the hits you can hear all the way up in the stands or the press box; the gasps and/or cheers of the crowd; the boos, the yelling, screaming, laughing, crying; virtually the gambit of human emotion. And I am amazed at the unfortunate times when a player gets hurt on the field, and you can hear a pin drop while we wait for him to get up. Because we want to see horrific bone-crushing hits, but we don't want anyone to get really hurt.
If you're not a fan, this makes no sense to you. If you are a fan, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
So raise a glass of your favorite beverage and toast the grid-iron warriors, at every level of the game. They play because they love the game, and we love them for it.
Because most of us can't play the game, some of us never could, even if we wanted to. Either we didn't have the size, talent, speed, or toughness required. But that won't keep us from screaming at the TV set during a game, or screaming until we lose our voices in the stands.
Because it's football, and as devout fans, we are engaged; we are animated, we paint our faces, we spend too much money on jerseys and other apparel. We cheer the cheerleaders, we wave to the blimps, we scream at the refs, (most certainly the replacement refs, and even the full-time professional refs). We scream at each other, we talk smack, we chide and cajole and mock.
We are football fans.
CHRIS HAIGHT lives in Tehachapi.